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Origin and History
Acupuncture is one of the oldest methods of relieving pain either by applying pressure or by stimulation of specific acupuncture zones/areas. It has been in use for quite a long time. Being a traditional form of Chinese therapy, acupuncture involves meditation, insertion, cupping and moxibustion as its primary diversifications. It was believed to have originated from China and from there it eventually dissipated across the globe, although with varied advancements and modulations. Acupuncture therapy dates back to 198 BCE, where stone carvings were discovered in Ma-Wang-Dui tomb in China
What is Acupuncture
During the therapy, small needles are inserted at certain prime points. This is meant to correct the imbalance in the flow of life energy or qi through channels termed as meridians inside the body. The blockage of the flow is said to cause various illnesses, which are corrected by way of acupuncture.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Since its inception, acupuncture emerged as one of the most potent therapies in treating mild disorders. While most of the medical institutes and investigating agencies point to acupuncture being ‘commercial’, its application is widely famous.
Here are some of the significant benefits:
- Helps reduce pre-and post-surgery related pains
- Enhances the effect of pain-killers, anti-depressants and other solutions
- Effective with rare side effects
- Aids digestion in pregnant women
- Has shown tremendous scope in combination therapy
- Ability to reduce pain and stiffness
Research and Studies
Several clinical and case studies have established that acupuncture does not possess any apparent healing effects; however, others are of the view that it does offer some benefits, unlike placebo. Study published by British Medical Journal demonstrated that acupuncture does not affect the individuals as pills do. Patients feel the change just because of the psychological satisfaction.
On the other hand, World Health Organization (WHO) established an active role of acupuncture in more than 24 conditions. Some of them may be more persistent than the others.
How to go about Acupuncture?
Depending upon the diversity, different regions have different duration of the therapy. Some may extend it to months while others restrict it to a week or two. Acupuncture, usually, starts with patient’s assessment followed by insertion of the needle.
- Before the insertion, care should be taken to sterilize the needle properly. For more appropriate results, needle is either charged statically or is being heated.
- Once it reaches the principle area, patient will feel deep aching or stimulating effect. The whole procedure is completed in 40 minutes, with needles sometimes inserted for as long as 20 straight minutes.
Who requires Acupuncture?
Regardless of the prevailing condition, anyone can benefit from this therapy owing to its no side-effects. Acupuncture can be effectively applied to:
- New mothers/lactating mother
- Workers, labors (spending more than 10 hours in one posture)
- Patients suffering from cataract, hip pain, joint stiffness, insomnia, fatigue, osteoporosis, post-operative pain, retinitis pigmentosa, arthritis and sinus.
Precautions, contraindications and interactions
Some of the precautions and associated risks are:
- Although safe, the therapy is not approved for patients with severe bleeding disorder.
- Patients on warfarin (blood thinner) are not recommended to undergo this therapy.
- Bruising, inflammation and redness at the site of insertion
- Not recommended in pregnant women
- Infection due to unsterilized needle
- Collapsed lung has been observed with too deep an insertion, however very rare
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- Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:312. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-312.
- Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Ratcliffe J, et al. Longer term clinical and economic benefits of offering acupuncture care to patients with chronic low back pain.Health Technol Assess. 2005;9(32):iii-iv, ix-x, 1-109. PMID: 16095547
- Liu F, Li ZM, Jiang YJ, et al. A meta-analysis of acupuncture use in the treatment of cognitive impairment after stroke. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(7):535–44. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0364. PMID: 24915606
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